Failure Not An Option for Karaka Million aspirant

Not An Option winning the Gr.3 Wakefield Challenge Stakes (1100m). Photo: Race Images

Trainer Tony Pike is confident smart two-year-old Not An Option (Not A Single Doubt) will be hard to beat in Saturday’s $1 million Karaka Million 2YO (1200m) at Ellerslie.

The attractive colt by Not A Single Doubt has won two of his three starts to date, including the Gr.2 Wakefield Challenge Stakes (1100m).

Despite having his colours lowered by Play That Song (NZ) (Showcasing) in the Gr.2 Eclipse Stakes (1200m) at Ellerslie earlier this month, Pike believes Not An Option can turn the tables on Saturday.

The Cambridge horseman gave the precocious galloper another look around Ellerslie when galloping on the premier Auckland course on Monday and it is all systems go for Not An Option, who races in the colours of Cambridge Stud’s Brendon and Jo Lindsay, who are the principal owners of the well bred colt in conjunction with a number of other prominent owners.   

“His work on Monday was good,” Pike said. “He got up against the rail and Leith (Innes, jockey) was really pleased with how he handled the tight turn with the rail out.

“We are pretty happy going forward especially as the horse he worked with, Merlini, is a pretty sharp sort of sprinter. He finished his work off nicely and pulled up well so we are pleased going into Saturday.

“I think he just got a bit lost around the turn at his first go at Ellerslie. That experience and the gallop there on Monday should result in him being a lot more professional on Saturday.”

Pike was out on the beat inspecting the next batch of prospective stars at the New Zealand Bloodstock sales complex at Karaka and said a win in the Karaka Million would be a great boost heading into the National Yearling Sales, which commence on Sunday.

“It would be lovely for Brendan and Jo to win it at sale time. Personally it is a big time of year with syndications and buying yearlings. To be out in the public eye and to win a race like that would be fantastic.

“We are on our second day of inspections today, there are some nice horses on the ground and we should be finished by the end of the week. By Friday afternoon we should be completely finished and have a list in place and can hopefully afford to buy a few more nice yearlings again this year.”

Pike will have three runners at the Ellerslie twilight meeting on Saturday, with Only In Jakarta (Snitzel) stepping up to stakes grade in the Gr.3 Preferment @ Brighthill Farm Concord Handicap (1200m), while Intrigue (NZ) (Showcasing) will contest the Collinsonforex Karaka Cup (2200m).

“It is a big jump in class for Only in Jakarta to Group company but her sectionals from Ellerslie were pretty exceptional. I think she went faster than the Hallmark Stakes (Listed, 1200m) on the same day.

“The times she is running and the confirmation from James (McDonald, jockey) that he thinks she would be very competitive in the race gives you some confidence.

“Sam Spratt rides on Saturday, she can ride about 53kgs and James can’t make the weight.

“Being a well-bred Snitzel filly to get some black-type under her belt would be ideal going forward.

“Intrigue is a bit out of the handicap but she is a very promising staying mare.

“Her run last start (when fourth to Tiptronic) with the rail out and no tempo was exceptional. I think it is a nice race for her especially coming in on the minimum.”

Meanwhile, Pike’s Gr.1 Vodafone New Zealand Derby (2400m) contender Sherwood Forest (Fastnet Rock) will step out over a distance for the first time on Friday when he contests a rating 82 benchmark event over 2200m at Te Aroha.

“He is crying out for that sort of ground,” Pike said. “His work has been super and it is never easy against the older horses up in Rating 82 grade. It is just a means to an end, he will run in that before the Avondale Guineas (Gr.2, 2100m) and then head to the Derby.”

Pike was also delighted with Group One-winning filly Loire (NZ) (Redoute’s Choice), who resumed with a closing second in the Gr.3 Desert Gold Stakes (1600m) at Trentham on Saturday on a track that favoured on-pace runners.

“She was exceptional, especially the way the track was playing. She will head to Te Rapa for the Sir Tristram Fillies Classic (Gr.2, 2100m) next and is on an Oaks path.”

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